Photo credit: @SFGiants
By Jeremy Kahn
What a nice start to a three-city, 10 game road trip for the San Francisco Giants against a tough Washington Nationals team.
Andrew McCutchen got the offense going in the first inning, as he hit his third home run of the week that matched his season total and the Giants defeated the Nationals 9-5 at Nationals Park on Friday night.
Andrew Suarez did not go the minimum five innings, as he was pulled from the game with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning after the Nationals cut the Giants once 6-2 lead down to 6-4.
Suarez went 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, walking one and striking out five, before way to Reyes Moronta.
The Giants extended the lead to 3-0 in the top of the second inning, as Alen Hanson continues his hot hitting since coming off the disabled list, as he singled to right field that scored Pablo Sandoval. Hunter Pence then extended the lead, as he doubled in Hanson.
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted just two innings before he was forced to leave the game with inflammation in his shoulder, and will undergo an MRI on Saturday. Strasburg gave up three runs on five hits, walking no one and striking out two, as he fell to 6-6 on the season.
Gorkys Hernandez continues his hot hitting, as he hit a two-run two run home run in the top of the fourth inning that gave the Giants a 5-0 lead.
The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Suarez gave up a two-run home run to Juan Soto that landed in the Giants bullpen just out of the reach of Pence, who attempted to make a home run saving catch.
Brandon Crawford remains hot, as he doubled to left field that scored McCutchen to give the Giants a 6-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Wilmer Difo began the Nationals comeback in the bottom of the fifth inning, as he singled to lead off the inning against Suarez. After Pedro Severino flew out for the first out of the inning, Adrian Sanchez singled and then Trea Turner walked to load the bases for Bryce Harper, who was the tying run.
Harper singled to right field to score both Difo and Sanchez, which marked the end of the night for Suarez.
Reyes Moronta replaced Suarez, and was able to get Anthony Rendon to fly out to Hernandez in centerfield and then Mark Reynolds fouled out to Hanson at third base to end the threat. That was it for Moronta, who picked up his second win of the season.
Matt Adams got the Nationals within one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, as he singled off of former Nationals reliever Mark Melancon.
The Giants broke the game wide open in the top of the seventh inning, as Sandoval singled in Joe Panik, who doubled to right field to lead off the inning. Following the Panik double, Buster Posey singled and then after McCutchen made the first out of the inning, Crawford was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases.
Sandoval then followed Crawford to the plate, and singled to centerfield to score Panik from third base. Evan Longoria, who did not start, came off the bench to pinch hit for Hanson and hit a sacrifice fly that scored Posey and then Hunter Pence put the finishing touches on the scoring, when singled to right field to score Crawford.
NOTES: Dereck Rodriguez will make his second major league start on Saturday, as he takes on Gio Gonzalez.
Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija both threw in the bullpen prior to the game. Samardzija, who is out with right shoulder tightness will throw one more bullpen session and then throw to hitters or make a rehab start. Cueto is likely to throw two more bullpen sessions and then a batting practice before returning from inflammation in his right elbow.
UP NEXT: The Giants and Nationals meet again Saturday at 9:05 am PDT.